Aquaculture for all

Fears over Funding for Lobster Programme

US - Concern is being raised that funding to restor the Long Island lobster population could be lost.

Question marks hang over whether the funding for the 'v' notching of lobster programme can be carried over from one financiual year to the next.

To date just 67,000 lobsters have been notched in Long Island Sound - 74 per cent of the programme's goal.

The programme has failed to win a new round of funding from this year's General Assembly but has about $240,000 left to spend, but must suspend operations when Long Island Sound waters get too warm, reports in the Connecticut Post say.

John Curtis, director of the Bridgeport Regional Vocational Aquaculture School and manager of the programme, told the Post he was confident Gov. M. Jodi Rell and her budget office would allow the programme to pick up again in the fall until the money already allocated is used up.

However, the director of marine fisheries for the state Department of Environmental Protection, Eric Smith was not as confident.

Any money left over at the end of the financial year ending 30 June will go back into the state's general fund unless special approval is given. and he told the Post that in a tight fiscal year, every request is being scrutinised.

At a meeting last week, Mr Smith said he and others made the best case they could for keeping the funds in the next financial year.

The programme, funded through a $1 million state grant last year, aims to help restore Long Island Sound's decimated lobster population. Once a $40 million business annually, lobster fishermen have suffered a steep decline in trade since a 1999 lobster die-off.

The programme pays for students from the Aquaculture School, the Sound School in New Haven and Ella Grasso Technical High School in Groton to ride on commercial lobster boats, notching the tails of female lobsters.

Those lobsters then are off-limits for two years, which officials hope will allow them to mature and reproduce.

View the Connecticut Post story by clicking here.
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